By: Mir M.Hosseini
Many years after an Incident in the holy city of Mecca that led to decapitation of an Iranian pilgrim in 1944, tensions rose again in 1981 when a group of Iranian Hajj pilgrims staged political demonstrations in Mecca and Medina. After a regime change in 1979, Iranian leaders dreamt of exporting the Islamic revolution starting with neighborhood Muslim nations. This indeed was a serious threat to the reign of Persian Gulf emirates and kingdoms on one side and to the interests of U.K. and U.S on the other side. Worldwide support of Iraq during the imposed war on Iran was another reason for Iranian leaders to use every opportunity as a propaganda tool. The pattern was mainly copied from the Bolshevik Soviet Union during The Cold War.
The Sunni Arabs pursued their own agenda against increasing influence of Shiite clerics in their own countries. Funded by an orthodox Sunni Muslim sect; Wahabis promoted a different version of Islam which created extreme movements such as Al-Qaeda. Nonetheless, the Saudi leaders called Iranian political demonstrations during Hajj as blasphemy. Wahabis regarded Iranian slogans admiring their Imam as a form of polytheism.
One way or the other, on July 31, 1987, Iranian pilgrims staged a demonstration against U.S. and Israel which soon escalated to clashes between demonstrators and Saudi security forces who opened fire. The toll was 402 dead, 275 of which were Iranians. While the Saudi government blamed the incidents on the Iranian pilgrims trying to destabilize their rule, Ayatollah Khomeini called for revenge which turned to a mob attack on Saudi embassy in Tehran. After normalization of ties, Iranian authorities agreed to limit their political demonstrations to their designated compound in Mecca.
One view advises that Hajj pilgrimage should be only devoted to religious rituals while the opposite view defends the idea that Islam in essence can not ignore world political affairs. Years later, Iran is competing at the top of the list of countries violating human rights where demonstrations are suppressed brutally, political dissidents and activists are charged with spying and confined to long prison terms and sometimes get death penalties. It can be admitted that the revolution has been contained by a silent coup of revolutionaries.